Bill puts all his eggs in one barrow to fund dream festival

A Galashiels man is putting everything aside in order to fundraise for a music festival in the Borders next year.

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 12:51 pm
Galashiels' Bill Jeffrey in training for his last big fundraiser. Now he wants to launch a world-beating new music festival in the Borders.

Bill Jeffrey, 61, made the headlines last year as he walked the length of the Southern Upland Way to raise over £6,000 for the town’s Christmas Lights.

He also joined Galashiels Community Council and worked with Energise Gala to try to help rejuvenate his hometown, but all that’s on the back burner now as he turns his efforts to following his lifelong dream.

He told us: “I want to bring a festival for new music to the Borders ... a festival that will create a stage for unsigned musicians to showcase their talents, an event that could bring all the best new talent from all over to our little part of the world.

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“We live on the border, so this festival will celebrte the fact that this is the place ... Where North Meets South.”

Bill pointed to the South By South West festival in Austin, Texas as a blueprint for how it could be done.

He said: “That started as a single stage in a field, and now it’s the biggest new music festivals in the world.

“There is no reason why Where North Meets South cannot be a world leader in new music.

“We have the talent in this country ... when I ran the 100 Bands on the Border festival a few years back, bands which appeared there have gone on to bigger and better things.

“There’s Blue Rose Code, from Edinburgh, they had the album of the week on Radio 2 a while back.

“And there was a bunch of lads from Lincoln, The Pylons, who were on the BBC stage at Glastonbury the year after the festival.”

Ever since he managed his son Craig’s career, he says new music has always been his passion.

“It’s always been my dream to bring the best festival to Galashiels, and the Borders as a whole, to put the region on the map.

“I’ve taken a step back from the community council and other things as they can tend to be a bit of a distraction.

“I’m now 61, and I’m not likely to get any younger, so this is the time to put all my efforts towards this.

“It can work. Look at all those top musical artists who played in the Borders before they became famous, such as the Rolling Stones at the Hydro.

“People are still talking about that now, and the same can happen again.

“I have a lot of contacts in the music industry, and a lot of bands have already expressed their interest.”

Bill said the coronavirus pandemic has made things difficult, however.

He said: “I also know that times are hard financially for a lot of people, so I want this to be free to attend for everyone.

“So it means I’m going to have to raise funds myself to make this happen.

“Over the next year, I will be doing some daft things to do just that.”

However, after breaking his arm in three places over the lockdown period, he’s had to put his big fundraiser back a bit.

He said: “I was planning on doing the Southern Upland Way again, but with a bit of a twist.

“I was going to push a wheelbarrow full of eggs over the full distance and these eggs would be numbered and folk could sponsor an egg.

“Any eggs that are still there at the end of the walk will be put in a hat and the winner would get 20% of the cash raised with the rest going to the festival.

“I will still look at doing this later in the year, but I’m going to try it out over the Eildons first.

“I had a lot of help from the town’s businesses for the lights campaign, but I know a lot of local businesses are struggling, so I won’t approach them this time around.

“However, I think a lot of the Borders public will be happy to donate a fiver if there is a decent festival at the end of it.”

Bill hopes to extend the festival to other Borders towns, and hold the event in a series of pubs and clubs.

But if that proves impossible due to the virus still being around, he says he will not give up.

“This will happen,” he says, “no matter what. If I have to put up a tent in a field on my own, that’s what I’ll do.

“I’m not looking to make any money out of this ... any money raised will go to the festival.”

He admits he has lost a lot of money in the past trying the same thing, for various reasons.

For instance, he spent £8,000 on banners trying to get a festival on, but they were all taken down by Scottish Borders Council.

It’s clear that Bill won’t let his dream just slip away, so look out for his fundraising exploits over the next few months.